The Indian education sector is undergoing a paradigm shift in today’s time. Thanks to the New Education Policy (NEP 2020) there are reforms in teaching methods, in curriculum as well as in how learning spaces are designed. The aim is to prepare Indian students across all curriculum areas and learning stages so they can succeed in a rapidly changing and interconnected world.
One such shift is from the traditional classroom to open classrooms. Spatial and neuroscientific research has shown that open classrooms naturally increase attention, focus, and curiosity in the brain, which is why the best companies in the world have made the shift towards open and collaborative workspaces. The research suggests that how classroom space is arranged, has implications for student performance.
Traditional classrooms are characterized by rows of desks and chairs, facing a teacher (or two) in the front, and the approach is predominantly teacher-led. These traditional classrooms which have four walls and typically house 30-50 students are now considered inadequate to deliver 21st-century competencies for learners
The flexible learning spaces are open and contain a variety of furniture options in an open space, which can be configured in various ways to facilitate different teaching approaches. They are based on predominantly student-centered design.
Open classrooms are capable of being configured to small groups of students work with teachers, as well as larger groups of students work with a team of teachers who teach collaboratively. Open classrooms can be partitioned on demand and completely reconfigured based on the need of the day.
Open learning classes develop and enhance 21st-century skills and values in their learners. The effective design of learning spaces has been found to facilitate student engagement
Vega Schools, one of the top schools in Gurgaon, has replaced traditional classrooms with open classrooms, individual quiet zones, and large spaces for immersive learning, and small hubs for individual assistance. Vega Schools believe that to maximize learning, classrooms should be open, comfortable, well lit, and visually stimulating. The learning space is based on design principles established by FNI, USA whose work has been published by The Harvard University Press. Thanks to open classrooms various forms of learning can take place (something that is very difficult to achieve in standard classrooms found in most schools).
- One on one teaching
- Peer based and social learning
- Team teaching and cohort learning
- Project based learning
- Challenge based learning
- Play based learning
- Learning by tinkering
- Authentic learning – real world problems and experiences
- Design thinking learning
- Open space technology learning
This fosters real-life learning in students from the pre-nursery grade onwards. The cognitive, social, and behavioral domains of student engagement are collectively associated with improved learning outcomes such as retention of knowledge, test scores, and grades.
Vega Schools, the best school on gurgaon,Sohna Road, is proud to have WHO compliant socially distant open learning spaces.
Salient features of open classrooms
- Have a range of furniture such as grouped tables, standing workstations couches, and write-able tables, quiet corners, and sometimes, flexible walls, sound absorption panels.
- Pieces of Furniture are spread in a way allowing teachers and learners to move throughout the session.
- Students are given the autonomy to choose where to work, what furniture and resources to use.
- Learners also get to work with groups or independently out of their own volition.
- The teaching approach in flexible learning spaces is student-centered and group-work focused.
- Schools use all the resources like staff, space, and time to support personalization.”
- Gives enough flexibility for creating spaces for groups of different sizes. There are small breakout rooms throughout the space so groups of students can work collaboratively
- There is also the ability to open the space to bring all students on a grade-level team together for large group activities
Benefits of open classrooms
- Allow student-centered methods like Problem-Based learning and a host of other contemporary teaching methods
- Teams of teachers can work with a larger group of students so they can engage in cohort based multidisciplinary learning involving various subjects based on a central real world theme
- Flexible learning environments support a deeper investigation into areas as learners take ownership of their learnings and act as co-creators of the learning experience.
- Learners also get a choice where and how they want to learn or enquire.
- Teachers can help learners work collaboratively or individually. Collaborative teaching relationships were productive and rewarding’
- Minimizes negative behavior such as bullying and physical harm.
- Support student choice of where and how they want to learn.
- Virtual space and innovative technologies can easily be incorporated into flexible learning environments
- Small breakout rooms help in doing many group activities like book reflection, inquiries and experiments, explorations.
- Teachers can also make smaller groups and re-teach concepts that may have been skipped by some students. This way those learners who have already understood the concept, can go to another topic without wasting time. Hence a more flexible and creative use of instructional time can be used to benefit learners.
- Teachers get to know all their learners in-depth and can assess them in varied learning contexts
- The explicit instruction, independent learning, feedback, and reflection helps in experiential learning which lead to improved student’s motivation and motivation
- Most importantly, open learning spaces mean staggered classrooms which enable social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Teachers are in a position to control young learners in maintaining all the required safety and health protocols for a safe and smooth function of the classrooms.
It’s proven by research that the strategic use of existing space can make a big difference.
Flexible learning spaces facilitate interaction, collaboration and higher engagement levels in schools. Students who spend more time in large group settings, interacting with other students, and actively participate in projects and inquiries are more confident learners. This facilitates a higher proportion of class time interacting, collaborating, and engaging with the lesson content.
Open classrooms provide multiple learning opportunities and enhance student creativity, innovation, communication, and problem-solving skills, which are deemed increasingly crucial for the workplaces of the future.
AT THE END OF THE DAY, LEARNING HAS TO CUSTOMISED, RELEVANT AND ENGAGING. A learning space should not dictate what all children should do, instead it needs to fit the needs of the individual child.